In his weekly meeting with the media, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio discussed the potential return of a disruptive interior defensive lineman.
Dorsey Nears First Action
After returning to practice last week, nose tackle Glenn Dorsey could make his season debut on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
"To me, that's truly 50-50 right now," Fangio said.
Dorsey suffered a torn biceps injury in August and has been on the Reserve/Injured; Designated for Return List.
The 49ers currently have an open spot on the 53-man roster after the team waived defensive tackle Demarcus Dobbs on Tuesday.
Dorsey, who is from Louisiana and played collegiately at LSU, tallied 41 tackles and two sacks in 16 games for San Francisco last year.
Willis, Brock Updates
Joe Staley missed practice again on Thursday because of his nagging toe injury.
If the linebacker is to avoid missing his third consecutive game, he'll likely need to return to the practice field by Friday.
"It's questionable," Fangio said. "As the week rolls on, if he doesn't start practicing at some point then it starts moving to doubtful."
Although Willis hasn't had any setbacks in his recovery, Fangio added that the veteran's toe "hasn't gotten much better."
As for Tramaine Brock, his toe injury has progressed enough to participate limitedly in practice this week.
The cornerback played Week 7 against the Denver Broncos after missing the previous five games, but he sat out versus the St. Louis Rams following the bye.
"He looked like a guy that was rusty," Fangio said of Brock's performance in Denver. "A guy that hadn't played in a long time and didn't play as well as he's capable of playing. (He) had a little minor setback last week but just wasn't ready and gave it one more week. Hopefully this week, we'll get him in there in the mix.
In Jimmy Graham, the 49ers face one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the NFL on Sunday. Through eight games, Graham has caught 46 passes for 518 yards and five touchdowns.
So just how does San Francisco plan on stopping him, especially if the team is without Willis? Fangio responded with a question of his own.
"Do you have any ideas?" Fangio said. "It'll be a mix of guys depending upon the coverage we're in and depending upon where he lines up. Could be a corner type, could be a safety type, could be a linebacker type, so it will be a mix."
In three previous matchups against Graham, the 49ers have done a remarkable job containing the Pro Bowler, limiting him to a combined 74 yards on 10 catches and no scores.
"It's a tough matchup and makes it tougher that he's a part of a very balanced offense," Fangio said. "So it's hard to give special attention to one guy all the time. We just have to go out and play."
With linebacker Dan Skuta's availability for Sunday's game in question due to an ankle injury, Aaron Lynch has garnered additional reps in the 49ers base defense this week.
"It's been a point of emphasis for him every week," Fangio said. "But obviously he's getting more with Dan not practicing yet."
The rookie linebacker has played the vast majority of his snaps during games in the nickel package, proving valuable as a pass-rusher on the edge. But if Skuta is held out of the Week 10 contest in New Orleans, Lynch's responsibilities would likely increase as he would have to cover receivers in the flat.
Corey Lemonier could also see playing time on defense in Skuta's absence.
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